Morning of Execution

Billibong woke up at his usual time and went fairly rangy at not having his breakfast waiting. It was in all respects a normal start to the day in the lab. His screeches and howls woke all of the other animals as usual.

          Fluffette seemed particularly put-upon by Billi’s early morning harangue. It was almost as though she knew this was her last morning and coveted that final bit of peaceful sleep. Put-upon was as good as it would get for Fluffette this day. She was denied her final meal for reasons she could not possibly comprehend despite considerable effort. She figured breakfast was being modified for some new test or preference that she’d be enjoying today. It wasn’t the first time she’d been surprised by a disruption of the usual feeding schedule, and her previous experiences were all good. New and delicious protein rich foods or gluten and wheat-free vegetarian fare always led to extra human contact and often a coveted walk. But today her handlers seemed less intent on petting and eye contact and rather keen to busy themselves with outside minutiae. She thought it odd that no music was playing in the lab and all of her human friends were too busy to give her any attention. When Doctor Friesen finally approached her it was with a sad face and unintelligible bad news. Of course Fluffette cooperated as always. She wasn’t about to modify her perfectly civil behaviour as the result of her humans having a bad day. On went her walking harness. As she passed the other cages, she ran her fingers along the grills, making that thrumming sound she loved so.  She stopped for a moment at Billi’s place as he seemed somehow sad. She felt sad herself as once again, Billibong was being left out of the excitement.

            “C’mon old girl,” Doctor Friesen said, as he led Fluffette past the other cages. He noticed that she hesitated at Billibong’s cage and had to give a little tug on the harness to move her along. Fluffette was almost fifteen years old, about two thirds of her natural lifespan, but far older than most lab apes. She had outlived her utility for long-term dietary experimentation and was unsuited for transfer to a retirement facility. Doctor Friesen knew that such animals could not be safely reintroduced to the wild and there was certainly no interest in funding such expense anyway.  For nine years, Fluffette and Doctor Friesen had worked together in this lab and their work produced considerable data. Friesen was unemotional but noticeably vacant as he walked the mature female ape to the chair in which she would receive her fatal dose of sodium pentobarbital intravenously and close her eyes and drift off to points unknown. “We’ve had a good time, you and I,” Doctor Friesen said.  “Lets get this little bit of business done. Then I’ll be sure to put in a good word for you in the month-end report.” Fluffette, remarkably, did not reply.

The Mayor of Osterville

Who wants to be the god-damned mayor?  That prick Denny comes into my backyard with the whipper-snipper on his shoulder and says we gotta go right now.  Right now in his truck.  Jesus, that truck only gets to about half of the places it starts out for.  So I grab my hat an’ we’re bumpin’ along S. Service Rd. at like 40 while the semis whistle by at 80 on the other side of the fence and over the rushes.  The road is sinking into the marsh faster than a stray tomcat finds a fight.  Where the fuck we goin’? I ask again.  He aint bitin’.  I’m in for the works.  So we get to the end of S. Service Rd. and Denny hollers somethin’ about the wheel and the truck starts to swish this way and that and the next thing I know I’m upside down in the ditch with fuckin’ catfish jizz all over my face.

“Fucking hell.”

“I’ll say. What the fuck?”

“I been meaning to get that wheel bearing done.”

“You been meanin’?” I cringe when I see the blood runnin’ down Denny’s ear.  It aint fatal but it aint pretty neither.  “Where the fuck we goin’ in such a damn hurry anyways?” I say.

“You going to be the mayor,” he says.

“What the fuck?”

“Yeh, turns out the voting is all but done and nobody’s voted at all and there’s a small print that says if nobody’s gonna be the mayor, you can be a write-on.”

“A write-in? That’s dumb.  Nobody’s gonna be a write-in for mayor.  And whaddya mean nobody’s voted and the votin’s done?” I says.

“Did you vote?” he asks.  And he don’t wait for an answer.  “Did your ma vote?  Did your pa vote?  Didn’t did they? Neither did mine or poor Alice, or Fargie or his elderly charge, or two-handed Luke Bishop and his kin.  So nobody’s voted and you gonna be the mayor.”

“What if I aint want to be mayor?”

“Don’t want it?  Let me tell ya, man, the mayor is the balls!  The mayor is— you get a desk and people call you all formal and you get to eat at the diner even when the sign says its closed and you get to throw out the first pitch o’ the season over at Larabe’s field when the team from Porterman’s Jailhouse comes.  Don’t want to be the mayor? Jesus, man, it’s the best job in the whole damn territory.”

“Mayor, huh?”

He smiles that wry pelican smile, like he knows where the mama catfish hangs out.  “Yeah. Sir Mayor Winslow fucking Washington, the hat.”

“I aint gonna give up my moniker, you’re right about that.  Mayor Hat Washington.  I like it.  It got a ring.”

“Fucking eh.” By now we’s up on the road, lookin’ down on the remains o’ fuckin’ Denny’s truck, all crumpled like Pastor Hildebrand’s mailbox after Tommy’s birthday bash, and Denny gets all uppity and says we gotta go. Almost time till the polls close. And if Denny and I vote for me then I get to be the mayor.  The Mayor of Osterville, SD. U.S.A.  Fucking Mayor Hat.